MAYA Steaks & Seafood: A Classic Steakhouse with a Spanish Twist
Ask Chef Mimmo Alboumeh about his restaurant business, and he’ll tell you about his passion for quality, his love of creative cooking, and his penchant for taking dishes to the next level.
Alboumeh, who was born in Lebanon but grew up in Spain, has been passionate about food since he was young. His great-grandfather and grandfather were both butchers. “All the women in my family were very great cooks,” he says. “I grew up loving cooking and creating.” At MAYA Steaks & Seafood, which Alboumeh describes as a classic steakhouse with Spanish fusion, he is able to incorporate his years spent in Spain and give free rein to his enthusiasm for high-quality food. Named after Alboumeh’s youngest daughter, the restaurant offers an extensive wine list and a selection of steak and seafood. The slight Spanish twist Alboumeh has crafted is ever-present on the menu, in everything from the appetizers to the sauces.
Alboumeh’s restaurant philosophy is all about passion and commitment: “Owning a restaurant, it’s a lifestyle, it’s a very hard business, you have to be committed unconditionally.” He is swift to acknowledge the sacrifice and patience required of restaurant owners. “A restaurant is almost like a tree. It takes years before it starts giving you fruit,” he says. “You need to enjoy what you’re doing just for the sake of it, not for the profit.”
One of the many restaurant components Alboumeh is passionate about is Braveheart Black Angus Beef, his brand of choice for MAYA’s steak dishes. After being introduced to the high-quality beef brand by Performance Foodservice, he fell in love with the product and has been using it exclusively in his restaurants ever since.
For Alboumeh, the quality and reliability of Braveheart’s products are what make the brand appealing. “Consistency in restaurants is the most important thing,” he says. “In a natural product it’s very hard to keep the quality consistent, but [with] Braveheart, they’re working very hard to create a consistent quality.” Brave
heart’s careful treatment of the beef through all stages of production differentiates it from other brands. The cattle are hormone and antibiotic-free and are carefully controlled for nutrition and quality. “Most of the time, you get a piece of meat, and you put it on the plate and it’s still bleeding because it has all these hormones and such, but when you plate Braveheart, it’s completely different, the flavor and quality are top-notch,” Alboumeh says.
It quickly becomes clear that Alboumeh has put a lot of thought into his choice of beef. He visited Braveheart farms, feedlots, and plants, along with a Braveheart cutshop where he tasted the product and compared it to other brands before making his choice. “You can see the passion these people have of waking up and caring for and controlling and raising this beef, it’s not just like a job or a business, “he says. Ultimately, it was all the characteristics of Braveheart Beef, from the carefully maintained quality to the humane treatment of the cattle. He has no regrets about his decision. “People try to sell me different brands all the time,” he laughs, “but I’m like, sorry guys, I’m sold already.”
Chef Alboumeh also owns Red Pepper Tacqueria, which offers modern Mexican cuisine with fresh, local ingredients and an eye toward healthy eating. “That’s how I see the trend of the new generation,” he says. “People want a great meal and they want it to be affordable, but they also want it to be healthy.” MAYA, which opened at the beginning of 2015, is Alboumeh’s fourth restaurant, in addition to the two Red Pepper locations and Coldbrews Oyster Bar & Grill. He spends a lot of time ensuring that he is a presence at all four locations. “It’s always like, who needs time today? Every day I drive around to the four restaurants, or at least two one day and two the other day. Pretty much seven days a week.”
Despite his busy schedule, Alboumeh continues to take pleasure in the simple act of being a chef. “I’m constantly cooking. I like the grill, I like steaks, I also like to be creative, with seafood and sauces, with salads and dressings—every single item, I put thought behind it. It’s about combining flavors and creativity; it’s about how to put the food together, it’s about the sensation of it.”